Category Archives: Music

Migration to www.VinylRecordTalk.com

It’s October 8, 2008 and the world around us is changing quickly.  Okay, let’s be a little more specific…..my world is changing.  This blog has been posted on a wordpress.com format.  FInally I have the other blog up, can’t say it’s all the way there, but there are a post or two.  Please visit my new blog titled Vinyl Record Talk.  There will be a lot of new things going on there.  Ideas are swimming in my head and I can’t get them down fast enough!  See you there!!  Remember…Vinyl Record Talk.

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Record Music History – My Way

I just had a birthday.  According to the US antique standards, I am beyond antique. 

In the US, an item is considered antique at 50.  This is 2008.

Let’s think about this a minute.  Hmmmm…..recorded music.  Records, specifically. 

Many of the records I own have hit the 100 mark or are very close to it.

The age of rock and rock has hit 50.

Taking all that into consideration, I decided to abandon the “retro” looks that many have used as the theme for their websites, blogs and Ebay stores.

 

I say not!!

Think golden years and rich patinas inviting you into the shelves of recorded music history.

No red, black, chrome or flashing disco balls here. 

It’s on its way. 

You will really want to gosinta this, sit back and reminisce!

What do Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, Alfred E Neuman & Alan Freed Have in Common?

 

The Pioneers 

 

We connected with each and everyone of these people – real or in  character – because they broke media ground…..

They held there own in a world that was resistant to change while at the same time embracing their talents. 

And, they each are attributed with coining a phrase.

“And awaaaaay we go!”  – Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners

“Vitameatavegamin” – Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy

What?…..me worry??  Alfred E Neuman of Mad Magazine

“Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Alan “Moondog” Freed

When Alan Freed hit the air waves as “Moondog” in July 1951, black music was still known as “race music.”  He rebelled against all previously thinking and did exactly what he thougth was right!  Needless to say it was hard for the program directors to swallow what was happening.  The audiences wanted to hear rhythm and blues by black artists – it was good for business.  Many of the listeners thought he was black himself since his voice had a beat similar to that of the contagious music he played. 

While Freed is attributed with coining the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll,” the phrase had actually been in use since the 1920’s.  It was black slang – replacement for the offensive word for sex.  It grew far beyond the slang and found its way the church.  Gospel music made people swing and sway – “rockin’ and rollin’.”   Alan Freed re-coined the phrase and used it to describe the new music he played on radio station WJW in Cleveland, Ohio. Guess it caught on, huh?!

Many say that this DJ held the first rock  concert.   The “Moondog Coronation” ball was scheduled for the Cleveland Arena.  Over 20,000 mostly black fans crashed the gates of the 10,000 seat arena causing the event to be canceled. 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Was On Its Way

In 1954 rock ‘n’ roll music hit the trade papers after Freed moved to WINS in New York and held a dance promoting black rock ‘n’ roll artists.  Within a month after the dance rock ‘n’ roll advertising hit the trades. ABC-TV scheduled him for his own TV show but canceled it in 1957 after a white girl danced with black performer Frankie Lymon of the Teenagers.  The southern affiliates were enraged!The Teenagers

Alan Freed became the first name associated with music through radio, television and the movies. was a prolific promoter – had his own record label, signed artists and promoted concerts.  

His career started its downward spiral in 1958 when he was charged with inciting a riot at a show in Boston.  WINS released him from his contract.  After being forced to file bankruptcy, he moved on to WABC, but his troubles only worsened.  1959 brought the ASCAP investigation of deejays who were thought to be taking gifts from record companies in exchange for giving their records airplay.  While many deejays were thought to be involved, the industry decided to focus on Freed. After refusing to sign a statement denying he had ever received payola, WABC fired him.  He finally pleaded guilty to 29 counts of “commercial bribery”. His fine amounted to $300 and 6 months probation, but his career was over. No one in the industry would touch him after this.

Alan Freed, the man who brought us rock ‘n’ roll died penniless at the age of 43.

Diana, You Are My Destiny and Paul Anka

Take a walk down memory lane with me.  Paul Anka hit it big when I was in junior high and continued wowing us with his hits through my high school years.  Follow me back to the late 50’s and 60’s as we reminiscence our way through one of the great singer/songwriters in pop music history.  Some of my favorite songs were written and record by this Canadian who lives in the US and had his car towed away while in the US Immigration and Naturalization Service becoming a citizen in August of 1990. 

Paul Anka

Paul Anka

Record Sales of Over 100 Million Copies

He made his first public appearance at the age of 10 and, in 1953, earned $35 at an amateur talent contest impersonating Johnny Ray.  In September of the same year he proves his songwriting ability  – I Confesss old 3,000 copies.  Early 1957 found Anka in New York City who became very impressed with the city.  He borrows $100 from his father and returns from Ottawa to New York City with four songs he is going to tape.  During this visit ABC Records signs this rare breed of singer/songwriter to Paramount.

Diana becomes #1 in the UK a month after its release and sells over nine million copies worldwide, landing it in the top five best-selling singles of all time.  Diana is followed by You Are My Destiny (#7, 1958), Crazy Love ( #15, 1958), Lonely Boy (#1, 1959), Hello Young Lovers (#23, 1960), Put Your Head On My Shoulder (#2, 1959) and Puppy Love (#2, 1960).

In 1969 Frank Sinatra adopted My Way as his signature song.  Interestingly enough, David Bowie recorded the first version of the French Comme D’Habitude transposed to English by Anka. It went to #5 in the UK while Sintra’s version hit #27 in the US.

His first hit since 1959 was in 1974 almost four years after he signed with Buddah.  The very controversial (You’re) Having My Baby was a duet sung with Odia Coates, his protegee.  They went on to record a total of four hits together.  In 1976 Kodak used his song Solo Times Of Your Life in a television commercial sparking Paul Anka’s final Top Ten hit.

Although Paul Anka does not make the charts anymore, he continues to tour worldwide.  Please visit his official site: PaulAnka.com

My eBay store currently has three Paul Anka record albums for sale:

1)  Paul Anka’s 21 Golden Hits – 1963

2)  Paul Anka Self – Titled – 1974 (?)

4)  Feelings – 1975

Happy Days!

The Mills Brothers Laid the Foundation for Doo Wop

Mills Brothers

Mills Brothers

“Paper Doll” sold over 6 million copies in its first release.  Their total record sales are literally uncountable – tens of  millions.  The four brothers Herbert, Donald, Harry and John Mills, Jr started performing as teenagers in the 1920’s imitating instruments on the kazoo. They first started performing under the name “Four Boys and a Guitar.”

Well, the predictable happened……one night they Harry forgot his kazoo and, you know the story…..the rest is history.  The audience was totally amazed at the brothers as they cupped their hands over their mouth to produce muted horn sounds.  They worked on the act and the sound Of Harry as a trumpet, Johan as tuba, Donald as trombone and Herbert as second trumpet laid the foundation for doo wop. This novelty act quickly grew into the highly successful career that spanned over 4 decades!

1928 – Tiger Rag Released

Can you imagine the history of this group.  Their first hit “Tiger Rag” was released in 1928.  They had hits every year from 1935 – 1947 and the recordings continued into the 1990’s with the release of “Still….There’s You,” a compilation of hits throughout the years along with new releases.

Grammy for Lifetime Achievement Award

The Mills Brothers were honored in 1998 with the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement Award.  The four brothers learned their close-harmony first hand.  Dad, John owned a barbershop in Piqua, Ohio and started a barbershop quartet called the Four Kings of Harmony.  The group’s close harmony landed them a solid spot during the swing era.  Their ingenuity and vocal genius earned them the coveted spot of being a true pioneer doo wop. 

We honor them and will never forget their last number one hit in 1952: “Glow Worm.”  Thank you Mills Brothers for giving us your hearts and souls for the past seventy-five years.

Uncle Miltie, the Automat, Dr. Benjamin Spock and Levittown

Automat

Automat

Do you know?  I’d forgotten about the majority of this and didn’t even know about Levittown.  There were so many things that passed through the popularity zone during the “golden oldie years.”

What was there before McDonald’s?   What is that magic box with those strange aluminum branches doing in my living room? Did you hear what the Dodgers did?  What are they doing on Long Island?  Have you read Baby and Child Care yet? Have you heard who Joe is accusing now?

Not only did Doo Wop music have its pioneers, there were revolutionary changes taking place in our neighborhood that would forever change the face of America.  While the Mills Brothers, the Ames Brothers, the Andrews Sisters, the Ravens, the Soul Stirrers and the Orioles fought for the air waves, our country was taking on a completely different face after World War 11.

The Automat opened in New York City in 1912 – thus the birth of “fast food.”  It remained popular through the 1950’s and paved the way for our fast food society. In 1955, the first Golden Arches of McDonald’s  rose to be the major contender in providing meals for Americans on the go. 

Milton Berle

Milton Berle

1948 brought the beginning of the end of the family gathering itself every evening around the radio. We quickly  fell in love with the elastic face of Milton Berle whose voice on the radio made us laugh. Back then restaurants would close and movie theaters were empty on Tuesday evenings when the Texaco Star Theater brought Uncle Miltie to life on that funny new screen.

Soon after the end of World War II Levitt & Sons built more than 17,000 single-family “ranch” homes that sold at under $8,000.  Levitt provided a piece of that American dream for those who could afford the payments of less than $60 a month!  The potato fields of Long Island are now a thing of the past.  Housing developments and tract homes became sought after by those who desired suburban life.

The Brooklyn Dodgers took a chance in 1945.  They signed Jackie Robinson who had, until then, played for the Kansas City Royals in the American Negro League. That single event went down in the record books as the  most important change in sports world  history.

Dr. Benjamin Spock burst onto the scene in 1946 with his philosphy of more love and less discipline in child rearing.  He believe in mutual respect between parents and their children. This man was given the distinction of contributing to the influence of the 1960’s world of hippies and flower children.  Could he be held responsible for anything else?  He was against the war in Vietnam and the development of nuclear energy. 

Who could forget the Red Scare of the 1950’s?  Joe McCarthy rose to power in the Senate and started the crusade to uncover the hidden communists, many of whom were famous while America watched helplessly.  He single-handedly ruined the lives and careers of many before he was stopped in 1954.  His abuse of American can never be forgotten.  We must be involved in our government. American cannot stand by passively and let misguided power ruin what was built on the blood of committed patriots.

Sen Joseph McCarthy

Sen Joseph McCarthy

Yes, doo wop changed popular music forever.  But as you can see, music was not the only changing taking place.

The Beginning of Doo Wop

Wop wop a do wop, ba bang a dong ding/bome……..

 

The Marcels

The Marcels

We attribute the beat, the sound, the rhythm, and the emotion of Doo Wop with the 1950’s. We also liken it to one particular deejay  from New York City – “Cousin Brucie” Morrow.  This one person helped shape rock ‘n’ roll music almost as much as the groups who sang and danced their ways into our hearts and memories.  According to him “all the basic elements of music as we enjoy it today existed in African music over four-hundred years ago.”   Take that history steeped in the church pews of black America and stir it up with a dollop of the blues and what you have is what we fondly call Doo Wop.

Doo wop artists emerged out of the swing-jazz era.  Big bands became, quartets and quintets.  Many of these new artists borrowed songs that had been major hits for jazz artists – adding their particular spin to the classics.  “In The Still of the Night” (Five Satins and Billy Eckstine); “Blue Moon” (the Marcels and Glen Gray) and “Stormy Weather” (the Spaniels and Lena Horne) are just a few.  Over the next few weeks, we will be visiting some of my favorites.

Five Satins

Five Satins

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